Prisoner Release: Lomé Peace Agreement

ARTICLE XXI RELEASE OF PRISONERS AND ABDUCTEES

All political prisoners of war as well as all non-combatants shall be released immediately and unconditionally by both parties, in accordance with the Statement of June 2, 1999, which is contained in Annex 3 and constitutes an integral part of the present Agreement.

Implementation History

1999

Intermediate Implementation

Immediately after signing the Lomé Agreement, the Government freed 98 political prisoners and detainees from the Pademba Road Security Prisons. The release came as part of the presidential amnesty. “Among those released were the former Secretary to the ousted military ruler Mr. Hamid Kamara, the junta's Attorney General Agibola Manely Spaine, former Deputy Secretary of State in the Department of Health, Dr. Matilda King and others. Their release followed the withdrawal of their appeals in a Freetown High Court."1 Sierra Leone's Revolutionary Front (RUF) rebels released 190 civilians, 111 of them were children.2

  • 1. "Sierra Leone; All Political Prisoners Freed," Africa News, July 26, 1999.
  • 2. "Sierra Leone; Combatants Start Freeing Children From Captivity," Africa News, July 26, 1999.
2000

Intermediate Implementation

Even though some political prisoners were released within weeks of signing of the Lomé Agreement, the RUF demanded the release of political prisoners as a condition for peace. The RUF demanded that the Government release all RUFP/Sierra Leone political prisoners presently held, including the RUF leader, Foday Saybana Sankoh.3

  • 3. "Sierra Leone; RUFP Sets Conditions For Peace In Sierra Leone," Africa News, December 5, 2000.
2001

Minimum Implementation

When the conflict restarted, the Government took many prisoners. It was reported that, “all of the RUF and AFRC prisoners at Pademba Road Prison rioted using their feces and urine to attack prison officials and police.” The prisoners then were moved to different locations.4 

The Government reported releasing 41 former RUF prisoners on August 10, 2002. The RUF disputed the number of prisoners released, stating only 17 were released.5 According to a Human Rights Watch report, at least 10 RUF political prisoners died in prison.6

  • 4. "Sierra Leone; Political Prisoners Moved to Jui, Banana Island and Lungi," Africa News, May 3, 2001.
  • 5. "Sierra Leone; RUF Disputes Number of Released Prisoners," Africa News, August 15, 2001.
  • 6. "Human Rights Report 2001- Sierra Leone," Human Rights Watch, http://www.hrw.org/wr2k2/africa10.html, accessed October 28, 2010.
2002

Minimum Implementation

There were - according to Human Rights Watch - dozens of imprisoned RUF and AFRC combatants and commanders in prison during 2000 to 2005.7

2003

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2004

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2005

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2006

Full Implementation

In early 2006, many of these (e.g. the well-known RUF commander “Leatherboot”) were released. It is unclear if there were any wartime prisoners after this date.8

2007

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2008

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.